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This article was originally published in issue #5
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Vintage has a great reputation for building really high quality products at a very reasonable cost. The company does a particularly nice 'Lemondrop' Les Paul which has the Peter Green wiring, and is a great looking and sounding guitar that actually does get the 'Greenie' Les Paul tone. But this is my first experience with a Vintage acoustic - and I have to say it's been a good one!
The VJ100 could be said to be inspired by the Gibson J200, an iconic acoustic guitar, still being made today, with a large price tag to match. I've played and used the Gibbo J200, and know well the big, bold, fat tone that comes out of it, especially when given a good thrashing! So I was really hoping that the VJ100 was going to come somewhere close to the sound produced from a good jumbo, Gibson, or otherwise. I'm happy to report, it didn't disappoint.
The guitar arrived in a fine looking cardboard box, which I guess is one of the factors that keeps the cost down. If it were to arrive in a fine looking plush lined case, we would be looking at more money. You can always pick up a good second hand case at later date if that is a concern. Once out of the the box and unwrapped, we were greeted with a very fine looking guitar, finished in cherry sunburst, and sporting some fabulous curves. Much like the J200, it certainly looks purposeful, and like most things curvy (I'm thinking of carsEd: liar!), will definitely get noticed.
The first thing I checked was the general resonance and string action (the distance of the strings from the fretboard). One or two open chords can tell you pretty quickly what you are going to be dealing with and I was pleasantly surprised that the guitar was nearly in tune straight out of the box, the action was nicely comfortable, and the sound it produced was that lovely big booming tone that I associate with this body style. Just from strumming a couple of open chords, I immediately warmed to this guitar. Knowing how little it costs, I did expect the worst, but if it can win me over, it can win anyone over, because I am a complete guitar snob!
Once in tune, the VJ100 accounted for itself well in all respects. There were no obvious finish or manufacturing flaws, it played very nicely all the way up the neck, the sound was big and warm, the intonation was very good in all positions,(unlike some more expensive acoustics which can be very suspect in that department).The size and width of the neck was a nice generic size and should cater for most hand sizes and the machine were nicely sensitive with a good positive feel, and overall, you have to give a lot of respect to Vintage for producing such a good quality guitar at such a low asking price. I could easily take this guitar to the studio, stick a mike in front of the sound hole, and record some panned left and right acoustic bedrock tracks, to which I would add on top some off those noisy electronical guitars we all talk about. No one would know or care how much the acoustic guitar cost. All that would really matter is do the acoustic guitar tracks sound cool. With this guitar, they would.
The VJ100 is probably aimed at someone who needs working real world quality on a budget, or at the beginner or hobbyist who fancies diving into the obsessive compulsive world of guitar playing. My first guitar was a truly awful Kay acoustic. I still own it for sentimental reason, but really, it's complete trash. 35 years ago, guitar companies could afford to put rubbish on the market and young kids would still buy it. Nowadays the bar is very high for budget guitars, and guitar companies simply can't afford to make and sell rubbish anymore, because it simply won't sell. If this guitar is anything to go by, Vintage would be very hard to beat in terms of what you get for the money. I am very impressed!